From the looks of things, Isiah Thomas’ unofficial attempts to nudge Carmelo Anthony in the direction of The World’s Most Dysfunctional Arena seem to be working out just as well as his courtship of LeBron James. Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears reported last night talks between Denver and Chicago centering around a proposed exchange of ‘Melo and Joakim Noah (above) were progressing, though the Denver Post’s Chris Dempsey reports there’s yet to be a bonafide sitdown between Anthony and newly-hired Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri.
The Nuggets want to get a firm, final answer from Anthony on whether he wants to remain in Denver. The team offered a three-year, $65 million contract extension early this summer and Anthony has not responded.
Ujiri said at his introductory news conference last week that he wanted to sit down with Melo as soon as possible in order to lay out the team’s vision and try to convince him to sign the contract extension. That meeting has not yet happened.
All things considered, Noah wouldn’t be the worst return given that Denver’s leverage is pretty questionable at this point. Certainly there are worse things than starting the ’09-10 season with a player as accomplished as Anthony, but it’s pretty hard to imagine conjecture over his summer 2011 status (are you ready for “The Decision II”?) overshadowing all other activity.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has called for Hall of Famer Dan Hampton to apologize for referring to the Dallas Cowboys as more ‘Brokeback’ than Eastwood. In a statement on its blog, a GLAAD official writes: “Hampton was trying to insult the Cowboys by comparing them to gay people – simple as that. Hampton wasn’t actually saying the Cowboys players are gay, but by making this comment, Hampton telegraphed to his audience that gay men are not good enough, just as he doesn’t believe the Dallas Cowboys are good enough. Hampton needs to apologize for this offensive and defamatory statement, just as he needed to apologize for his Katrina comment. We will be calling Pro Football Weekly to voice our concerns.”
Pro Football Weekly editor Hub Arkush told AfterElton.com, “We will be responding to the “Brokeback” comment as well, and it absolutely will include an apology. In our horror over the discomfort caused by the “Katrina” comment we rushed to offer the most sincere apologies we could and some folks took even further umbrage at our apologies. As badly as we feel about both situations we are trying our very best to be sure we don’t do anything that might offend anyone even more.”
As my close friends are well aware (and probably sick of hearing about), I spend a fair bit of time during the spring and summer at a minor league ballpark (yes, the rumors are true — sales of Red Ropes finance CSTB’s bandwidth bill), and as pleasant an environment the Dell Diamond affords on a 100 degree evening, not once have I ever considered the Round Rock Express’ venue a suitable place to crash. Mostly because I’ve got somewhere else to go, mind you (well, that and Williamson County jails don’t take kindly to male model types like myself). The same could not be said for Reno Aces second baseman Ryan Roberts (above), who confesses to the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro, he’s been using Aces Ballpark as his own personal bachelor arms.
œYou just couldn™t let anybody see you, Roberts said. œAfter the game, I™d sit on the couch in my uni until Bugsy (Reno manager Brett Butler) would leave, so everybody would think I was just hanging out. Then I™d shower up and hang out with the cleaning crew.
Roberts decided that with his family staying in Phoenix, he had all he needed the Reno clubhouse. Why get a place when all he was doing was sleeping there and coming straight to the ballpark the next day? Besides, half the time he was on the road with the team. Then there were times when his family would visit and they™d get a hotel room.And staying in the clubhouse had its moments. Once some of his teammates figured out he was crashing there, they™d stay late and play PlayStation. There was plenty of bottled water in the fridge, along with sandwich supplies and snacks in the kitchen.
Still, there were times when being at the ballpark 24/7 was just too much.œIt was brutal, he said. œDefinitely not the year we expected. I hope I™m not sleeping in any more clubhouses.
If the Patriots were the Jets, we™d all sit back and wait for the next episode of œHard Knocks™™ and laugh at behind-the-scenes video of players and coaches swearing and eating and joking about superstar contracts and player holdouts.
But the Patriots are not the Jets. The Patriots are the Nixon White House of sports. They see demons everywhere. They bash dissent, deny the obvious, and rely on a silent majority of loyalists (including some credentialed media) to pledge allegiance.
The Patriots have a Kremlinesque video camera trained on the assembled media during Bill Belichick™s press conferences. (Think they™d send me a highlight tape of myself eating cookies and asking keen questions over the last 10 years?) I™ve always wondered whether there is some in-house lackey responsible for logging the tapes and identifying enemies.
It’s the second of the above italicized paragraphs that Boston Sports Media’s Bruce Allen takes great exception, in effect demanding the oft-ridiculed Shaughnessy reveal exactly who Belichick’s boot lickers are.
Name the credentialed media. Call them out by name. Do it publicly. Don™t send an email or make a phone call. Just name them.
I mean, this is a serious offense, is it not? These so-called objective media members, who have pledged allegiance to the evil empire that is the New England Patriots and their emperor, Bill Belichick, need to be identified.
I like how Dan is implying his own bravery here as well by mentioning the œsilent majority of loylists “ the implication being that there are only a few brave souls “ including himself “ who dare speak against the evil being committed down in Foxborough.
The event perhaps also offered perspective on the Mets’ relationship with the three most prominent players who skipped the non-mandatory event – Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. All three have had issues with the Mets recently.
Still, David Wright was disappointed that everyone didn’t go. “You’d like to see everybody. I don’t think it’s big enough until you get everybody
“But we made a good showing and I think it meant a lot for those guys and it meant a lot for us. It’s amazing to see how dedicated they are to this country. It makes your chest swell.”
McCarron seemingly characterizes the players’ absence as some sort of passive-aggressive protest against management. It would be wonderful to get their side of it and it does seem like a paper with the Daily News’ resources could’ve at the very least solicited their thoughts on the matter. There are few Mets fans who’d sympathize with Perez or Castillo under almost any circumstances, but whatever their offenses between the lines, it’s curious why the Mets P.R. department would relish hanging them out to dry like this. I mean, when exactly did Ollie Perez become an anti-American jackal, before or after he forgot how to throw strikes?
There was second-year boss Buck Showalter, affable and cordial and welcoming. After a few pleasantries he began his soliloquy: “I asked you in here, because when I saw you on the field before the game I was frankly worried for your safety. Some of them truly do not like your style on SportsCenter and I thought someone was going to take a swing at you. These guys claim to ignore the media but every day our newspaper recycling bin is full. Actually, the players refused to come into the clubhouse until you leave. Me, I don’t care, I have a tough skin, you’re a bright fella and you know your baseball and you make me laugh. But I thought (Wade) Boggs or especially (Paul) O’Neill might take a swing at you.” Having startled me with this announcement, Showalter asked a question. “Far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, but how much of that job is dependent on access to the players?” I told him that conveniently the answer was none. He was silent for awhile. I told him it was all academic because I would be leaving SportsCenter soon to join our new ESPN2 product. Showalter smiled. “Well, we have a flight to catch but it’s been a pleasure. Sorry I had to be the bearer of such bad tidings about how the players feel about you but I really thought you needed to know.”
I left the Stadium quickly, wondering not just about the oversensitivity of the Yankees, but more importantly why they would be worried more about me than about getting shut out by Chris Flipping Haney.
The punch line to this previously unreported exchange is that a couple of years after the fact, Olbermann claims O’Neil denied expressing hostility towards the journalist, and claimed Showalter had crammed every uniformed Yankee into the trainer’s room rather than allow Keef to chat with them. It sounds like a fairly transparent ploy, matched only by the New York Mets tanking the month of the September in successive seasons (’07 and ’08) rather than contend with the slight chance of Wally Matthews popping in postgame.
Most people in the world don’t have to have an opinion, well-informed or no, about the sports columnists at CBS Sports. I suppose that I don’t really have to have an opinion myself, although the fact that CBS is one of my regular visits when I’m doing The WSJ Daily Fix Thing means that I am at least familiar with who those columnists are. So this gives me a really uncool edge on everyone — and it’s probably more or less everyone — who can be all, “Um, I know there’s definitely Shannon Sharpe. Or Sterling Sharpe. And also I think Hugh Downs and Sherman Alexie? And is Summer Sanders still doing that blog?” It’s one I would trade to you for pretty much anything. But it does enable me to have opinions on things that are transparently unimportant and none too interesting. To wit:
So CBS Sports has a bunch of columnists, more or less all of whom are at the very least Fix-usable and three of which — the very great Ray Ratto and the very better-than-serviceable Dennis Dodd and Gary Parrish — are pretty good. All of them have really terrible column photos, though: Parrish’s gel-and-loosened-tie look is uncomfortably Frat Semi-Formal, Dodd looks like Mitch Pileggi doing a SlimFast ad and Ratto looks like a skeptical walrus. Again, it takes nothing away from any of them, and Ratto — it bears mentioning again — is one of the most consistently wry and wise and overall excellent writers out there who types about sports. But the picture atop Gregg Doyel’s column is actually exactly right, and maybe even pretty flattering considering Doyel’s past mohawk photos. But the sour, puckered-up face Doyel is making in his column photo — it’s atop this column, which I’m going to write about in a moment — is just so right for him. It’s a picture of someone losing his train of thought mid-scold; it’s a photo of the worst dad at a Little League game suddenly realizing that he has to go to the bathroom, number two, and pronto. It’s pretty representative of Doyel’s writing, too.
(It’s worth mentioning, parenthetically, that Doyel may not actually be the worst columnist at CBS Sports. The hilariously, relentlessly anodyne Mike Freeman is just as predictable, but his dull, dutiful columns — here’s one about how the Mariners’ knowing acquisition of rape-y former Rangers prospect Josh Lueke represents baseball’s declining commitment to moral players — aren’t nearly as gripping as Doyel’s equally dull but much more in-your-face troll bait. Also, Freeman loses points for forgetting about legendary Raw Talent Ambiorix Burgos. And one should never forget about Ambiorix Burgos, if only because he’s presumably going to get out of jail someday)
Anyway, Doyel’s an ulcer. I mean, I don’t know what he’s like in real life, but given how eager he is portray himself in columns as a guy who enjoys screaming disgustedly at his television — see here — it would seem unkind not to take him at his word. Of course, taking Doyel at his word would mean accepting his own self-assessment as a fearless truth-speaker, forever willing to take big names to task in near-unreadable columns that make for easy SEO-stack headlines. And it would mean ignoring the fact that he’s obviously working the WWF Heel angle pretty hard — drawing fire, drawing comments, hopefully drawing links and hits and ad-views or whatever. He shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
And yet, while I sense he gets his own Heelery at a level that’s probably not entirely unconscious, it’s occasionally amazing to see how far he will go for a sell. The premise of the piece itself is straight comment-and-link-bait all by itself — Doyel is “asking” Boise State to lose to Virginia Tech tonight. But even knowing that he’s playing up the whole Gregg Doyel thing as per usual in the grafs I’m about to quote, even knowing that he’s fishing for “Doyel UR retard!!1!!” comments on his piece — even knowing that, isn’t this a bit much?
It’s nothing personal. Honest. I don’t dislike Boise State or Boise State coach Chris Petersen, even if some of you in Idaho might recall a brief confrontation I had with Petersen last year on a conference call. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, congratulations: There’s another conspiracy for you. In addition to the SEC connection here at CBS — plus I attended the University of Florida! — Petersen and I butted heads, briefly, on a phone call last year … so this year I’m getting even by rooting against the Broncos.
Problem with that theory is, I have notoriously bad phone etiquette. I also butted heads once on a phone call with Mike Krzyzewski. So the conspiracy theory falls apart there, because Krzyzewski coaches Duke and Duke beat Butler for the 2010 national basketball title and Boise State has been called the 2010 football season’s equivalent to Butler, and since I once butted heads with Coach K that means I should, um … now I’m confused.
So how about this. How about we just stick with the facts here? And the fact is this: If Boise State beats Virginia Tech, the Broncos almost certainly will play for the national championship this season, and that’s going to kill me.
See anything there you don’t like or find annoying? Say it in the comments, please. And on your blog, and especially on, like, Huffington Post and Bleacher Report, please. If Doyel is in earnest, he’s got to be a pretty miserable guy. If he’s not, then it seems like he’s wasting what could be a pretty cool gig on what must be an exhausting and unsatisfying bit of play-acting. I’m starting to think that picture might be a candid.
You can ring the bell 10 times for The Anvil’s reputation, folks. Days after no less an authority than Bip Roberts urged Major League Baseball to consider Victor Conte a suitable replacement for Commissioner Bud Selig, might it be too early to submit the former BALCO chief as a long-term substitute for Linda McMahon in the World Wrestling Entertainment hierarchy? The Tampa Tribune reports Monday that former WWE fixture Jim Neidhart has landed himself in world of trouble.
Just before 3 p.m. Sunday, Neidhart, 55, was pumping gas at the A.J. Food Market, 9806 Tom Folsom Road, Thonotosassa, when he began yelling and causing a disturbance, the sheriff’s office said.
The sheriff’s arrest report said he was seen opening pill bottles located in the trunk of his silver Pontiac Sunfire.
When deputies arrived at the scene, he was agitated and aggressive. He was observed “ingesting multiple pills that he dropped on the ground while inside the trunk of his vehicle,” the sheriff’s office arrest report states.
He was found in possession of 55.6 grams of Oxycontin and 17.4 grams of methadone. The prescription pills were in three bottles with the name Mary Cutillo written on the bottles, the sheriff’s office said.
Cutillo had reported her Hillsborough County home had been burglarized and that her medication had been stolen, the sheriff’s office said.
Neidhart, who is a friend of Cutillo, allegedly went to her home and pried open the rear door of the home. He then stole her prescription pills, which are valued at more than $300, the sheriff’s office said.
Going into Friday’s game, Garza said he was seeking payback for how the Orioles did against him in their previous meeting. After Garza led the Rays to a win, Scott admitted Garza was successful but chastised him for boasting, citing a Proverb that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Garza, though, said Scott is being somewhat hypocritical given his elaborate home run celebration that includes pointing to the sky, hugging the on-deck hitter and high-fiving multiple teammates, including a choreographed slap-fest with Felix Pie.
“It’s the same thing, where you’re showing up the other guy,” Garza said. “The game’s gone that far to where it’s acceptable. It’s just what it is.”
I’m a Christian, too; a Catholic Christian. He’s throwing something in that shouldn’t even be allowed to be brought in,” Garza said. “That’s a topic where you don’t ever bring that up. ¦
“My feeling is that God has a lot better things to worry about than if I’m going to throw a strike on a certain pitch. A lot of other things. I’d rather (Scott) not bring it up.”
(La Genius, shown with creature far more compliant, obedient than Colby Rasmus)
Further details surrounding Tony La Russa’s burial of Cards CF Colby Rasmus are emerging, and if there’s any saving grace for St. Louis, said pissing match provides slight distraction from the club going into the tank almost immediately after they attempted to separate Brandon Phillips’ head from his torso. In addition to soliciting commentary from Albert Pujols backing his manager — “he (Rasmus) needs to find out the talent and ability that he has and pretty much keep his mouth shut and play the game” — Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan cites numbers that at the very least, call into question La Russa’s judgement, if not his people skills.
Rasmus™ relationship with the Cardinals™ organization has been contentious for much of his career with the Cardinals, who drafted him with the 28th pick in the 2005 draft out of high school in Alabama. His father, Tony, criticized La Russa in 2008 on message-board postings after Rasmus was sent to the minor leagues after an excellent spring, and La Russa chafed this year when Rasmus met with his father for personal hitting sessions in July.
Whether it™s a coincidence that La Russa stopped playing Rasmus every day is unclear. Indisputable is that since July 3, when outfielder Jon Jay(notes) was recalled from Memphis, he has started 44 games and logged 199 plate appearances. Rasmus, who missed nearly two weeks recently with a calf injury, has started 31 games with 139 plate appearances. Even before the injury, Jay “ a moderately touted prospect with far less upside than Rasmus “ had gotten more plate appearances in the prior six weeks.
On the day of Jay™s recall, Rasmus ranked seventh in the NL with a .915 on-base-plus-slugging. La Russa said Sunday morning that he likes Jay™s œsavvy and would prefer that Rasmus control the strike zone better, as his 32.7 percent strikeout rate is third-worst in the NL.
œIt™s not personal to Colby, La Russa said, adding: œHe™s the best fifth-place hitter we have.
Rasmus is 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored against the Reds, with St. Louis leading, 4-2 in the last of the 8th. Scott Rolen was plunked earlier today by Chris Carpenter, and the pitcher should be applauding for rejecting instructions to bean his own center fielder.
I realize everyone wants to jump down the Danimal’s throat for a poor choice of words, but perhaps he’s just a big fan of Kimberley Rew’s post-Soft Boys output and would like to see Brad Childress’ Vikes emulate Rew’s Eurovision-winning exploits?
Maybe this will become a regular feature at CSTB — certainly, there’s no shortage of content, much as the original owner of the above item wasn’t lacking for a sense of humor at one time. Not to be cruel, but it is very hard to fathom at what stage in “Super” Joe McEwing‘s baseball career there would’ve been one single person — and I am including his family members and Art Howe — willing to pay U.S. dollars for a jersey sporting the (f)utility man’s name and number
Were it not for a rather late evening celebrating the release of this wonderful vinyl artifact, I might’ve made it out of the house today in time to watch this afternoon’s Texas/Rice contest at a local tavern in the company of total strangers all wearing burnt orange. In the considered view of “Boys Will Be Boys” author/Sports Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman (above), such behavior, while perhaps OK in moderation, is downright loserish in excess (“I detest off-the-charts fanatical adult fans…collegiate sports should be fothe kids who play, and the kids who attend the universities”)
I am always at a lost to explain the adult boobs who, sort of literally, live and die with the Vols or Tide or Trojans or Hogs or Irish or ¦ whatever. These people, long out of college, refer to the teams as œWe, own a closet chock full o™ university colors, arrive three hours early for games and know the names and hometowns of every player on the roster“starting QB to fourth-string kicker. The kids they™re rooting for are 18-, 19-, 20- and 21-years old, yet these so-called fans have no problem cursing their names, booing them to death, calling them flops and failures and, if they dare transfer, traitors.
It actually reminds me of the all-time greatest SNL skit”William Shatner addressing a Star Trek convention. To quote Shatner: œI™d just like to say”get a life, will you people. I mean, for crying out loud, it™s just a TV show. I mean look at you. Look at the way you™re dressed. ¦ I mean, how old are you people. What have you done with yourselves?
My advice to you folks mirrors Shatner™s: Get a flippin™ life. Use your time more productively. Take a long Saturday afternoon walk. Hit up a museum. Travel. Because there™s more to life than college sports
One might even go so far as to say there’s more to life than professional sports. But if a large number of Americans took Pearlman’s advice and found new leisure time and/or cultural pursuits, what do you think would happen to the circulation of Sports Illustrated? What major publisher would pay an advance for a biography of such major historical figures as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds? Pealman claims a recent SI critique of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley resulted in a large pile of anti-Semitic, homophobic abuse aimed in his direction, and while I’d never condone that sort of thing, at least there’s evidence someone gives a hoot about the choice of subject matter. If it’s time to address the nation’s poor priorities, why does all the blame rest with the morons filling the stadiums, sports bars and message boards? Shouldn’t a responsible party like Pearlman’s paymaster, Time-Warner, consider reducing the amount of college sports offerings they make available via cable television? Or perhaps ending 56 years of SI, before society becomes even more hateful. Hey, I’m willing to do my part, too. If a revered, successful writer like Pearlman is willing to walk away from writing about sports, I’m equally willing to follow suit — for the kids!
Mixed Martial Arts — fast becoming America’s 4th or 5th most popular spectator sports and/or most powerful influence on ugly t-shirts worn by mall patrons, is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea. But would even a detractor like Bob Ryan denounce such competitions as ungodly? Perhaps not, but that’s where Adam Groza, vice-president of enrollment and student services at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif, comes in. From Baptist Press News.com :
Sadly, some evangelical churches are embracing the violence of MMA and UFC. One Florida church used an octagon stage design. I can’t imagine a church using a bar as a stage design, but apparently while it’s wrong to imbibe alcohol it’s OK to imbibe violence. Canyon Creek Church in Lynwood, Wash., even held a church event for UFC 100, where for only $10 a person you could watch the fights live on pay-per-view. Pastor Brandon Beals is referred to on the church’s website as “the fight pastor” and is quoted as calling it “very fan-friendly.” Does he think it conflicts with Scripture? “If it was still no-holds barred, if it was underground or illegal, then yes. But this is legal and sanctioned. It’s got rules. You’re talking about stellar athletes, so I don’t believe it does at all.”
UFC and MMA amounts to violence porn, a term which has been applied to movies with wanton violence such as “SAW,” where violence is not part of the plot, it is the attraction. Violence for violence’s sake, as opposed to instrumental or redeeming violence, desensitizes the viewer to the graphic horror of watching two people pummel each other for the sake of entertainment. UFC and MMA offer exactly the kind of violence condemned in Psalm 11:5. Ezekiel 7:23 decries, “the city is full of violence.” Why are Christians supporting violence in the city?
No doubt Christian MMA and UFC fans would argue that their sport leads to evangelistic opportunities. This same argument is made by those who drink alcohol at bars: You get the chance to witness. But Christians are not pragmatists, even when it comes to evangelism. God-honoring evangelism doesn’t adopt methods or practices that compromise holiness. Noble intentions cannot justify an unholy fellowship of light and darkness.
Last July, the Mariners claimed they were unaware that part of their bounty for Cliff Lee, P Josh Lueke, had been previously convicted of false imprisonment. COO Chuck Armstrong and team president Howard Lincoln plead ignorance regarding 2008 rape allegations against Lueke, statements called into question by former M’s pitching coach Rick Adair, who told the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker he’d spoken with Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik about the pitcher’s history before the trade was consumated.
Adair, a minor-league pitching coordinator with the Rangers during the 2008 rape investigation, says he warned Zduriencik about Lueke’s situation.
“I told him everything I knew about every prospect I was asked about, including Lueke, including any court case,” said Adair, who was fired Aug. 9 along with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. “Everything I knew to be accurate, I told them.”
Mariners President Chuck Armstrong said he learned of Lueke’s case by reading media accounts published hours after the trade. He ordered Zduriencik to phone Texas GM Daniels back that night and get a player-to-be-named substituted in Lueke’s place.
“We tried that on Friday night,” Armstrong said. “But then, on Saturday morning, the Rangers said, ‘No, we’ve already notified the players. The deal stands as is.’ ”
But Rangers GM Josh Daniels said the Mariners could have sent Lueke back. “We offered several times to reacquire Lueke in a separate transaction ” an offer originally made the same night the deal was announced,” he said in an e-mail to The Times. “That offer stands.”
I think it’s important to note that Jon Daniels has no reason to lie or mislead. Rick Adair just got fired a few weeks ago. He may harbor some ill will, and may hold a bit of a grudge. The Mariners have the whole Refuse to Abuse campaign and, as Baker says, “have long supported groups opposing violence toward women.” So the Mariners clearly had a reason to smooth things over as much as they could. What would be Daniels’ angle? Daniels would have nothing to gain by not telling the truth.
The San Antonio Express-News’ Eva Ruth Moravec reports Mike Lavendar, an in-game announcer for the Spurs, minor league baseball’s Missions (Texas League) and the AHL’s Rampage, has been charged under Texas’ relatively new online “harrassment-spoofing” law, and was released from an area jail last weekend after posting bail.
Police said Lavender used a Twitter account, œ@SkanksInSA411, in June to harass the 33-year-old reporter, claiming she was in a relationship with a married man.
Because of the sensitivity of the allegations, the San Antonio Express-News is not identifying the reporter.
An arrest warrant affidavit states that an SAPD detective secured a grand jury subpoena and a court order to obtain the Twitter user’s IP address, which connected the account to Lavender’s home computer.
Police said Lavender admitted sending the messages from the social networking site.
Lavender’s Twitter feed indicates he didn’t expect the comments could bring criminal charges.
œOh (reporter), this isn’t harassment, it’s fate coming to get you. We all can see the (sic) pics on your FaceBook, and his FaceBook, reads one tweet, or message sent publicly through Twitter and limited to 140 characters.
In other posts, he compared her to Nicole Kidman’s character in the movie œTo Die For, called her a œhomewrecker and told his followers to boycott the station where she works.
I think we can all agree that while Timber Joey is a huge improvement on say, Fireman Ed, it would’ve been a nice nod to the region’s rich cultural mosaic had the Portland Timber based their mascot on this gentleman.
Fox Sports’ shy, retiring NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw had some pointed words regarding the pampered, entitled superstars of the modern game yesterday, telling a Shreveport, LA banquet audience, “you wouldn’t believe the way some of these stars treat me.” From the Shreveport Times’ Roy Lang III :
“I hope they never find it ” $50,000?” Bradshaw said. “Go tell that to somebody that can’t pay for his kid’s education or can’t get them into a hospital room and get them treated properly. Here is a guy wearing a $50,000 earring to practice. I hope they stomped on it and I hope he never found it.”
Bradshaw called Adam “Pacman” Jones and his “making it rain” stunt with $100 bills “stupid” and had some choice words for Ben Roethisberger, the quarterback who now leads Bradshaw’s former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Going to bars ” treating women like that; oh my God,” Bradshaw said. “I pray they don’t cut (his NFL suspension) to four games. I hope they leave it at six. There is no excuse for that. The egos get out of hand.”
Of the recent soap opera(s) surrounding Brett Favre, Bradshaw admonished the Vikings QB (“I don’t know who that guy is….you kiss his ass long enough, that’s what happens”), thus guaranteeing that whenever Favre is available for chat this season, it’ll be probably be rigged-sac(k) buddy Michael Strahan asking the easy questions.
If playing baseball is about actual baseball things — you know these: hitting, throwing, catching, glowering, bickering, obfuscating and denying — being a fan of the game is essentially about language. And also I guess drinking and hot dogs, but I’m going to focus on language. This is not to say that the joys of being at a baseball game are somehow secondary to talking about that game, but… well, I think they might actually be secondary, at least to me. As excellent as all the smell-of-the-grass/coldish-beer stuff is, the fan experience of baseball facilitates conversation pretty much to the point of demanding it, be it about the game or whatever else. And while the data-centric, graph-and-chart aspect of baseball talk is ascendant online, I’d argue that it’s still for the most part subsidiary to a word-driven conversation about the game — the internet’s way of writing about baseball includes this sort of thing, in other words, but it’s all in the interest of this sort of thing. The bigger purpose of The Baseball Internet’s mountains of conversational prose and all those weird bloggy blooms of fervor and humor is, I think, the conversation itself — the discourse is, in a sense, its own point.
Which sounds solipsistic and goofy, I guess, but I don’t mean it as criticism — the reason I’m writing this, and that you’re (possibly still) reading it is that we share an interest in having a conversation about this particular topic that’s different from the joyless, rip-intensive editorializing hat generally defines mainstream sports media. Which is reasonable enough considering that that other conversation is led by, you know, Gerry Callahan or Gregg Doyel or Mike Francesa or whoever you like least. We’re not hurting anyone, and it’s perfectly natural not to want to hang out with those guys. Callahan smells like bile and Drakkar Noir, Doyel is always screaming himself into nosebleeds and Francesa always has mustard stains on his shirt. You wouldn’t want to hang out with them, either.
And with this new conversation we get this weird new lexicon — both the military-grade density of sabermetrics’ acronyms and odd physiology formulations like “scapular loading.” Speaking for myself — and speaking as someone more interested in making himself look smarter than he is than dumber/more-authentical than he is — I don’t totally get all these things. Scapular loading, for instance, is something I can definitely pantomime for you, and maybe kind of explain — it describes a particularly faulty bit of pitching mechanics in which the shoulder blades pinch back towards one another. Factor in an “Inverted W” — what happens when a pitcher’s elbows are higher than his shoulders during the loading part of the pitching motion — and, the conventional wisdom goes, you’ve got a motion essentially guaranteed to cause injury. Here’s a photo of Bill Pulsipher modeling the inverted W in a stylish Somerset Patriots uniform. Yes, I chose that picture on purpose.
The conversation that is going on about this particular topic on the internet wasn’t one I’ve joined myself — for reasons that are probably easy enough to understand: would you want to argue with this dude? — and so I was surprised to find out how passionate it is. The Tommy John-ing of Stephen Strasburg — an inverted-W man, himself — has fired things up, understandably. With this renewed look at mechanics has come another turn in the spotlight for Dr. Mike Marshall (above), the renegade pitching technician and operator of this Angelfire website from 1994. He is also the same person as 1974 NL Cy Young Award-winner Mike Marshall. I knew little of Marshall’s long second act except the basics — that he got his kinesiology degree and has retreated into a Colonel Kurtz-ian existence in Florida, teaching a peculiar take on pitching mechanics (which includes little hip rotation and essentially no leg kick) to players with nowhere else to go. Periodically, someone writes about him and his odd ideas — Kevin Baxter did so in the Los Angeles Times back in 2007; Bruce Markusen did in Hardball Times just a few days ago. The takeaway is usually the same: this very accomplished guy thinks he has a better way of doing things, and no one will listen. Cases like Strasburg’s, a graphic reminder of the limits of pitching mechanics to prevent injury, tend to bring both this subject and Marshall himself to the fore. It happens every few years.
And here’s where the surprise is, for me. Taken on its face, The Dr. Mike Marshall Story looks like an easy enough cause for the Internet-as-it-is-caricatured — the contrarian bloggers in basements, the vengeful nerds, whatever — to rally around. In Marshall, you’ve got a smart dude with unique ideas who is not being heard; you’ve got a convincing and ready-made villain in the ossified baseball brain trust types; you’ve got object lessons like Strasburg and Mark Prior and Bill Pulsipher and a few dozen others that any fan can list off the top of the head. And yet that’s not the direction in which the conversation has moved, primarily because — as Baseball Prospectus’s Will Carroll noted back in 2008 — Marshall’s alternative to the scapular loading thing doesn’t seem to work. Instead, we’ve gotten something that one wouldn’t necessarily expect from a discourse that generally centers on — and I mean this in the nicest possible way — outsized emotion and acronymical stat-parsing. We’ve gotten, instead of mechanical analyses and jeremiads against The Old Ways, this mournful, philosophical acceptance that asking the human body to throw a baseball is just kind of a very cruel thing to ask a body to do.
You expect this from Joe Posnanski, who’s probably as close to a patron saint as the new online sports discourse has, and he delivers it in a (typically) long and eloquent blog post that conjures the achy-armed ghosts of Jim Pittsley and Roger Salkeld to make the smaller point that most brilliant pitchers, whatever their mechanics, do not stay healthy enough to become brilliant older pitchers and the larger point that basically everything about baseball defies things easily understood.
It’s tempting to try and find reasons why players get injured. To do so helps us to feel powerful, in control of our destinies and those of youngsters like Stephen Strasburg. And acquiring knowledge that others supposedly don’t have is also alluring, in that it allows us to claim a special status. We are on the forefront of a new movement. We saw what others did not. We were his Apostles spreading the word. We saw The Beatles when they were still a garage band in Liverpool.
… What Marshall says sounds plausible and tantalizing, even if he’s not correct. And so he continues to churn out a vocal and devoted following who will beat his drum and toot his horn in the face of evidence to the contrary. In the face of science. Their science is that young men get injured. And dammit, they want answers and solutions, and the simpler the better.
Admittedly, this is the sort of thing I like, but I think this particular direction is a good one. Because sports are fundamentally kind of an inconsequential and silly thing, the mainstream discourse about it will probably always be at least moderately buttheaded — lots of stuff about heart and swagger and chemistry and getting-tough and all the other familiar leftovers. But even bearing that in mind — and bearing in mind the fundamental triviality of talking about baseball, which I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned yet — there’s something exciting to me about watching this radically different, more aware and more nuanced way of talking about baseball develop. This way of thinking, writing and talking about baseball didn’t exist in a way that I had any access to even a decade ago, and the rate at which it’s improving both upon the old model and itself is impressive in the extreme. If we’re going to be talking about baseball, anyway — and we are, since that’s what it’s for — I’m happy that this is the way in which we’re going to be talking about it.
I never quite understood what would possess any newspaper — even a college daily — to publish Justin Borus and Andy Feinstein’s monumentally wretched “Sports & Girls”. That after several yeears, the strip is now a fixture on ESPN.com’s Page 2 is encouraging in that it might signal an unusual aesthetic shift for the WWL, from edgy-for-the-sake-of-it to so fucking bland you’ll want to shoot yourself in the face.. And with that, here’s a short list of Things That Are Funnier Than “Girls & Sports”.